In a way, Marc Forgione is restaurant royalty. People call his father, Larry Forgione, "The Godfather of American Cuisine." So it makes sense that Marc Forgione followed his father's footsteps into the kitchen while also developing a style of his own. Today Marc Forgione owns his self-titled New American restaurant in New York City's TriBeCa neighborhood. His contributions to Taste of Vail include a cooking seminar on exotic spices. Marc Forgione plans to demonstrate how to make Colorado lamb neck braised in vadouvan curry, cancale-spiced carrot puree and chios flavored peas. Here he talks about studying in France, "natural Pop Rocks," and cooking in the Maldive Islands.
Daily Staff Report
1. Vail Daily: You once served as the corporate chef for the BLT Restaurant Group, which runs such famous steak houses as BLT Prime in Manhattan. What's the secret to cooking a great steak?
Marc Forgione: Salt, pepper and patience.
2. VD: Your father, Larry Forgione has the nickname "The Godfather of American Cuisine." What aspects of his cooking style have you embraced? What, if anything, have you rejected?
MF: My father never got caught up in any trends. It was always solely on the flavor and product. If he wanted to put crab in a spring roll he did it because he liked it, or add lamb's liver to the lamb dish, he did it. Some chefs get caught up in what you shouldn't or should do. He just did. I think that's a big part of the reason he was so influential.
3. VD: You studied French cuisine while working for three restaurants in southwestern France. What lessons did you take away from that experience?
MF: To learn to speak French before you go! Honestly, I learned that there are still some places in the world where there is no TV, or Internet or shopping malls, places where food is still the mainstay of an entire town and the people there respect everything from the foie gras to the pomme de terre " and truly enjoy working in a restaurant. The restaurant was a way of life there in Eugenie, not just a job.
4. VD: For you, is cooking at home completely different than cooking on the line? How so?
MF: Yes and no. There's no pressure at home, however, you can take the chef out of the kitchen but you can't take the kitchen out of the chef (or something like that). At home I'm much more relaxed but every once in a while I'll make something so good at home that it ends up on my menu.
5. VD: If you had the power to ban a food from American supermarkets, what would it be?
MF: The hamburgers that go in the microwave bun and all. Something just doesn't seem right about that.
6. VD: If you were limited to eating one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
MF: My mothers' spaghetti and meatballs.
7. VD: The public is getting more and more educated about authentic cuisine, techniques and ingredients. Does this give you as a chef more freedom or less?
MF: I think it makes us have to step up our game a little bit. I'll be at a friends house and they'll tell me about a ramp pesto sauce they are planning on making for their homemade pasta. I feel like five years ago that wasn't the case but overall I think it's a great thing to be educated on what you eat. It makes it more special when the meal is good.
8. VD: What ingredient or technique are you all fired up about?
MF: Sechuan buttons. It's an herb that gives your palate a little wake up before you eat. Kind of like natural Pop Rocks. Very cool.
9. VD: What ingredient or technique are you just plain tired of?
MF: Recession menus
10. VD: What's the best perk about being a chef?
MF: Well right now I'm writing this to you from the Maldive Islands because they asked me to be the guest chef for a week " not bad! Other than that, long hours, lots of stress and burns on your forearms.